Charitable Giving in an Unprecedented Year

It goes without saying that 2020 has been a difficult year, presenting unrelenting challenges for individuals and communities across the world. 

It is also apparent to many that 2020 has been a year of incredible giving, generosity, and small (or large) acts of kindness. This year, giving was both overwhelmingly personal towards one’s own community, and broadly global as we found solidarity across borders.

Nonprofits around the world provide critical services for millions around the world, but experienced unique tumult and change in 2020. Many nonprofits are still uncertain if they will be able to stay open and continue to provide services, and those nonprofits reliant on volunteer help have struggled as in-person volunteering steeply declined from previous years.

However, many sources have already published data that shows people are donating to nonprofits in higher amounts and frequency than in previous years. Additionally, the impact of the corporate sector has been material – employers around the world heard the needs of their networks, and responded by providing increased support for their employees, nonprofit partners, and communities.

Indeed, over 6,000 nonprofits received donations for the first time through Bright Funds in 2020. This year brought urgent attention to multiple issues that will remain pertinent for the foreseeable future, although certainly exacerbated by Covid-19’s impact: 

  • Systemic racial injustice in the US
  • Covid-19 and its influence on issues like healthcare and food security
  • Covid-19’s influence on everyday challenges — climate change, access to education, hunger, economic inequality, and natural and human-made disasters.

Lest we forget, 2020 brought us many significant disasters — earthquakes, fires, floods, the busiest Atlantic hurricane season on record, and man-made humanitarian disasters. As we encountered each disaster over the course of 2020, it was apparent that the disaster’s impact was twofold due to Covid-19. 

Seeing a looming crisis, nonprofits urgently needed sustainable support from their donor base, who answered their call. The collective impact of small, donor-driven donations to local nonprofits was significant. Over 18,000 nonprofits received an aggregated donation total under $10,000 in 2020 from the Bright Funds network; Bright Funds is incredibly proud to help donors support their local nonprofits of choice – truly no donation is too small.

2020 isn’t over yet, but data from Bright Funds already gives insight into this year’s most supported causes. Using NTEE taxonomy for US-based nonprofits, the top-trending cause areas include:

  • Food Banks, Food Pantries, Food Service, Free Food Distribution Programs (K31) (K30) 
  • Human Service Organizations (P20)
  • Civil Rights, Advocacy for Specific Groups, Minority Rights (R20) (R22)
  • Disaster Preparedness and Relief Services (M20)
  • Animal Protection and Welfare (includes Humane Societies and SPCAs) (D20)

These cause-areas trend globally, but people give locally. For example, within the three areas related to food banks and human services, over 600 unique nonprofits across the US received donations. 

This year has highlighted the importance of being ready to support individuals, nonprofits, and our communities at a moment’s notice. Bright Funds is proud to provide employers and their employees with the ability to react quickly to current events anytime throughout the year. From national food banks to local animal shelters, a diverse group of nonprofits around the world received meaningful support this year driven by employee choice.

As 2020 comes to a close, we honor and thank the nonprofits, donors, community leaders, volunteers, corporate business leaders, and essential workers who have worked tireless to bring positive impact to our communities in the face of unprecedented challenges.

Rachel Nersesian

Rachel Nersesian

Rachel partners with program leaders to deliver community impact through Bright Funds. Rachel worked with several US-based and international nonprofits before joining Bright Funds and currently serves as an executive committee member on the San Francisco chapter of the Armenian International Women’s Association. She played Division I softball at Georgetown University and graduated with a B.S. in Foreign Service with a major in Culture and Politics.